The melon campaign is in full swing in the Region of Murcia, at a time when temperatures in much of Europe are not ideal for the consumption of summer fruit. Despite the current stagnation of the demand, Murcian operators devoted to the production and export of melons continue investing in the improvement of the production processes in order to meet the demand of the numerous international markets where the company ships its fruit.
Continuous development has allowed the Gregal cooperative, based in Torre Pacheco, to become one of the most important players in the region when it comes to melon exports, with an annual production of about 45 million kilos and presence in markets in Europe and the Middle East. This year, Gregal has a new calibrator that will allow it to increase its production capacity to one million kilos per day, making it possible to meet all orders at peak production times.
"The decision to purchase the calibrator was made at the end of the summer of 2018, and this summer we have been able to start working with it," says Pedro Navarro, commercial director of the cooperative. “We were seeking to have a sufficient production capacity for the times when the volume of fruit increases. The new calibrating machine has the capacity to sort between 250,000 and 300,000 kilos per day. Adding that to the 3 calibrators that we already had, we'll easily be able to handle around a million kilos of melons daily.”
The new equipment is allowing the cooperative to process all contracted volumes, streamlining the handling and packaging process. "It is giving us a great deal of flexibility, especially when the weather makes the harvest concentrate in short periods of time," says Navarro. "Moreover, if the moment comes there is a chance for growth, we are already prepared for it."
Melon sales affected by bad weather in Europe and low consumption in the horeca sector
Gregal, which is specialized in the production and export of Galia, Cantaloupe and Yellow melons, is facing numerous challenges this year. "Apart from the fact that the weather in Europe is not suitable for the consumption of fruit and vegetables, other factors are making this campaign rather difficult," says the commercial director.
The loss of important sales channels for melons, such as restaurants or cruise ships, closed by the health crisis, has left thousands of kilos unsold. “It is a difficult market situation for everyone. The demand, regardless of the temperatures, is not at the usual level. This is causing prices to be lower than desired,” said Navarro.
In this context, innovation and development are key factors to remain in the markets. “We are always willing to work together with the seed houses to stay up to date with what's new and be the first to have it. We seek excellence, striving for the product to be better and better. Offering the highest possible quality is the only way to compete with other companies, which also do very well,” says Pedro Navarro.